Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quilting This and That

I've been so enchanted by the applique blocks that Susan has been doing, that I decided to do the BOM from Bunny Hill Designs also. This is the February block, all basted and ready for me to applique. This is the January block, finished! I was really ready to do a bit of hand applique again and this project is perfect: the blocks are small, cute and perfect for picking up in spare moments and doing a little hand sewing.
I also sewed up some wonky stars ( a first for me) to send to Tia. She is so generously hosting a project to collect blocks and sew them into quilts for Australian Bushfire sufferers.

These are ok but I think I need to work on my wonkiness!

2009 Support Your Local Library Book Review 2: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

This book centers on the shooting in a high school by a disaffected student and explores the idea of what drives a student to do such a horrible deed. She explores the relationships amongst the teenagers-including their past. This is a small town and most of the high schoolers have always been in school together.

From Jodi Picoult’s website:
“In Sterling, New Hampshire, 17-year-old high school student Peter Houghton has endured years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of classmates. His best friend, Josie Cormier, succumbed to peer pressure and now hangs out with the popular crowd that often instigates the harassment. One final incident of bullying sends Peter over the edge and leads him to commit an act of violence that forever changes the lives of Sterling’s residents. “

The main problem is that Picoult is clearly much more comfortable portraying adults than teenagers and so while the portraits of the parents of the students have depth and are believable, the students themselves are not fully developed and you can’t really understand anyone’s actions-certainly not to the point of murder.

Here’s an odd little thing: the blurb on the back of the book was very misleading…”fault lines between the high school and adult community begin to show…” Having read the whole book, I have no idea what they’re talking about! That was one of the ideas that attracted me to read the book but it simply is not in this book!

If anyone else has read this book, I would love to read your comments-I’m really still bothered by it.

This is the second book by Jodi Picoult that I have read: the first being My Sister’s Keeper. I don’t think I’ll read another-I’m actually bothered by realizing that she seems to take the central ideas of her books from the news.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Antique Lone Star Quilt Top

This last quarter of the 19th century Lone Star quilt top is both the oldest in my collection and the first that I ever purchased. I love its wacky color sense.

When you look at it a second time, you realize that within each star "wedge", the color combinations are not unusual at all: red and green (that all time favorite), blue and pink, red and pink, yellow and red, blue and tan or beige. Its that each wedge is colored differently from the next that gives this quilt its wonderful uniqueness.

Most Lone Star quilts have the colors changing in a sort of circular motion. Not here!

The beautiful setting fabric and bright red and yellow sawtooth border perfectly complete this top.

Here are some close-ups of the wonderful fabrics used in this quilt top. Two different greens and the yellow in the star and the sawtooth are not the same .

This is the other side of the quilt top, its the only star diamond that I found pieced! Look at her tiny stitches and how she tore the setting square fabric on that side.

BTW, the border fabric looks new and unwashed and again being frugal, she left the selvage on one side to make up the width needed. I wonder why she never quilted it...

Hope you enjoyed seeing my oldest quilt top. For more VTT treasures and to join in the fun, click on the button.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

I made these delicious chocolate chocolate chip cookies on Friday and this all that is left! They were that good and easy to make too so I thought I'd share the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
1. Cream together 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup oil.
2. Add 1 egg and mix well.
3. Add 1/3 cup milk and1 teaspoon vanilla and mix.
4 Add dry ingredients: 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well.
5. Add 1 cup chocolate chips and mix.
6. This is a fairly wet mix so I used two spoons to "plop" about half a tablespoon of batter onto a paper lined cookie sheet-about 1 1/2"-2" circles of batter.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine came out perfect at 10 minutes-and that's each and every trayful!) The cookies are done when no impression is made when you lightly touch the tops.
These come out both "cake-like" and chewy at the same time. Hmmm.
I usually don't make cookies except for bar cookies because I'm very lazy about hanging around for 10 minutes waiting for a batch to be done...but these are worth it :) 4 dozen cookies to 6 cookies in 1 1/2 days! (and only 3 of us at home!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Black and White Challenge: Log Cabin quilt top finished

Yahoo! I've finished! I was really starting to think that this quilt was jinxed: besides the misstep with the sashing, I blew out two irons! (I don't even know how...ok, well I dropped one but the other?!)
I am happy with the result though...I got the heavy patterning broken up by the sashing but still very evident...just the look I was going after...very graphic and just a little bit 3-D.
Here you can see all the different fabrics I used: lots of black and white prints and just a few red and black on white prints to mix up the whites.
I think the second from the last black/white is my favorite Art Deco looking!

This black and white is a fabric I thought I'd never use...its actually a skeleton print! but doesn't it look great here...the white on the black is really bold compared to the other black/white prints.

It's a rainy, cloudy day and I think the color of the photos has suffered :(

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Miniature Glass Paintings

These are two Italian miniature glass paintings. The frames are about 51/2" x 5 ", the glass paintings themselves are only 2 1/2" x 2"! Very tiny and very hard to photograph! Both are "courtly" scenes of elegant men and women-the clothing styles are 18th century, but I don't know if that has anything to do with the age of these paintings (I doubt it!).

The closer I tried to get-the fuzzier the pictures became!

Isn't that an amazing amount of detail in 2 1/2" x 2"!

Here are the backs-the writing on the left is Italian...the paper on the back makes me think these are late 19th century/early 20th century.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

2009 Support your Local Library Challenge Book Review #1: Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

This book truly moved me into another time and place: a small island, San Piedro in Puget Sound in 1954. The story centers around the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto for the murder of a fellow islander fisherman but this is really mainly a device to explore the personalities and interconnected lives of the islanders-it is not your usual mystery book.

You get to know the islanders relationships in the past, including the friendships that were broken apart by the forced movement of the Japanese-American islanders inland during WWII and the current state of relationships, about salmon fishing and fishermen and even strawberry farmers!

This book won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award in 1995.

I really enjoyed this book: it is a thoughtful book and I will continue to think about the ideas raised here.

This is my first book review for the 2009 Support your Local Library Challenge .

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Crazy week and Log Cabin Quilts

This has been a crazy week. It started with a trip to Tel Aviv with some friends to see a quilt exhibit celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv and then attending a lecture by the Australian quilter Pam Holland. The lecture was very interesting, I think Pam is probably best known for her portraits but what I found most interesting was her use of fabric pens. Now I've inked on quilts and I've even stencil painted a bit on quilts but what Pam does is really drawing and filling in and the fabric stays soft and lovely! I have to get some of those pens!

Monday, I went to the supermarked-why does it become a day long and then putting away. I complained to my husband that night that I'd done nothing all day! His answer: if you haven't sewn, you think you've done nothing! Too true! I usually go the supermarket once a month-is that making it better or worse?

Tuesday, I finally got back to the black and white log cabin quilt-cut the sashing and sewed the horizontal sashing to the blocks, pressed and laid the rows out of the bed in the guest room. Something didn't look right! I'd had 1 1/2" in my head as the cutting width and somehow that became the finished size and I'd cut the sashing 2" wide. That's what comes of not writing things down!

I've pinned the bottom sash so you can see what I intended and above you can see what I got! First, I thought "I'll pick", then procrastination set in and I thought "Maybe its not so bad..."
I finally decided yesterday-I picked and trimmed the sashes and now I'm back where I was on Tuesday!
This is the colorwash log cabin quilt that you can see peeking out from under the black and white blocks. It was the first of several colorwash log cabin quilts I did and the darkest-I started doing them with mediums as the darkest value and I really liked the look even more . (I'll have to look for a picture.)

While indecision reigned about the black and white quilt, I at least decided to machine quilt one of the big bed quilts in the closet. Whenever I have a large quilt to pin-baste, I put it in the frame if its empty. (I usually just crawl around on the floor for lap size quilts. )
This quilt is also a log cabin, its a medallion log cabin with this big wide pieced border. I had to pick out on this quilt too-its been in the closet so long that I realized I had no fabric left for the binding. The quilt top used to have a narrow outer border in the red fabric-so I took that off and I've put it away for the binding. I think I'll get a new free audio book from Librivox to listen to while I pin baste.
Ah books-I found a fun book challenge at Fractured Toys while visiting around seeing everyone's VTT goodies. Its the 2009 Support your Local Library Challenge and the idea is that you read 12, 25 or 50 books this year that you've borrowed from the library and you write and share a short book review on the challenge's blog.
Even though I live overseas, luckily and happily for me, our local library has a large collection of English books (as well as French and Russian collections besides the main Hebrew collection). I've decided to join-I'm choosing the 12 book option because any more and I'll never sew! This will be fun, though I'm a bit nervous about writing the reviews-its been years and years (okay decades really!) since I wrote a book report :)
The Local Library Challenge is being hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog and she has several challenges going on-really one to suit just about every reader!
Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Wedgewood Morning Glory

Valentine's Day always means something pink and lacy to I decided to show a Wedgewood Morning Glory plate today and some of my doily collection (not quite pink and not quite lace but close :)

This Wedgewood Patrician plate is marked on the back and the date is impressed-the best I could make out of the date is 194? I'm not sure if its 1942 or 1947. The Patrician pattern was manufactured both alone and with a floral design.
All of my doilies were made by my Grandmother. This one is my favorite.

This one looks quite modern to me ( and the design makes me think of quilts!)

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

B & W Log Cabin quilt and embroideries

I've finished sewing all the blocks for the log cabin its time to think about the setting. I've had an idea in my head from the beginning to use sashing (like I did with the vintage log cabin quilt blocks). I like this-its bright, I can see a pattern formed by the log cabin blocks and yet each block stands out a little separately too.

Here are the same blocks without the sashing...just a bit duller and ...more ordinary, I think.

Here are two of the embroidery blocks from my embroidered summer spread which ended up being a duvet cover. These are from my vintage Aunt Martha's -I used the Pharaoh's daughter's maid and not the whole block. I love her "look". This is one of the first blocks I embroidered-at first I was going to use just one color floss but by the time I got to the grass on this block I changed my mind-so its blue with green and blue grass!

I've been thinking about it-I think she's a Pixie!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Aunt Martha's quilt patterns

This is my collection of vintage Aunt Martha's patterns (not very big, is it?) It consists of 2 iron-on transfer patterns and one quilting pattern booklet. The small packet is the oldest-the address on the back uses a city postal code so it has to have been printed no earlier than 1943. Aunt Martha's was producing patterns long before that and was already popular in the 1930s.

This pattern set was for days of the week tea towels-I have no idea what the little figure is supposed to be (an elf?, a fairy?, a Martian?) but she sure is cute.

Here she's sewing-my favorite! I have used some of these in an embroidered quilt I made (I'll show pictures on the week-end) and I actually once saw a vintage quilt that used them too!

Aunt Martha also produced larger pattern sets intended for quilts-this is the Old Testament set. I love the 1930's graphics-get a load of David in his very chic Cave Man outfit!

BTW, if you're interested, this pattern and the New Testament pattern set are still available today from Colonial Patterns. You can also get the State Birds and State Flowers-probably the most popular patterns in the 1930-1940s that Aunt Martha produced.

Aren't the Egyptian princess and her maid lovely!

The quilting booklet is the latest Aunt Martha pattern booklet that I own-printed after 1963 by the zip code in the address and the fact that the patterns include seam allowance (most older pattern books did not include seam allowance). On the back of the booklet is a collection of other Aunt Martha pattern booklets - these are also available today here.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

B & W Challenge quilt: log cabin

Being away at New Year's meant I didn't plan my quilting goals for this year and now its already February! So here's the plan...not too much-plenty of room for quilting serendipity.

First off, the Black and White Challenge. For my first quilt, I chose red as the extra color and log cabin as the pattern-but a log cabin with a difference. I'm still into exploring what happens when I play with color/value placement using a familiar and straightforward block-much like what I did in the Plaid quilt (9/9/08 post).

First off, all of the blocks have red used as the center and on the light side. Then I played with adding a little light to the dark side internally...

then internally and make a "mini" block in the middle...

and then the dark coming over to the light side.

This is the basic block without any shenanigans. I also varied the widths of the logs (as you may have noticed!) getting that bold black to really stand out.

I actually have 3 quilts in mind for the B&W challenge-this and one more are patterns I've wanted to play with for a while and the other is fabric based: I bought this wonderful fabric in 1992 or thereabouts and its been in the closet ever since...I will solve how best to use it this year!

I also want to continue with the idea of quilting up alot of the tops in the closet-I don't know if a quilt a month will be practicable-several large bed quilts are in there. I also want to quilt tops that I finish this year and not just add them to the pile...lets see if I have luck with that :)

I'll also have to find more storage space: quilts take up lots more room than tops!